A trio of Payson state champion cyclists have ridden their way to honors in the granddaddy of all mountain bike competitions — USA Cycling’s National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships. The gold medal showdown was held July 17 near at Sol Vista near Granby Ranch, Colo.
Wayne Gorry, a Julia Randall Elementary School teacher, took third place; his son, Cypress Gorry, was fourth; and Daniel Conley turned in a ninth-place showing.
The younger Gorry and Conley are Payson High School students.
Wayne Gorry, racing in the Category 1, 55-59-years age division, covered the rugged 15.3-mile course that traveled through some of the state’s most scenic winter ski areas, in 1:44.08. He was just 1.62 off the winning pace of 1:42.46.
“That was the toughest course we have ever raced,” Gorry said. “It was extremely technical and a maze.”
Cypress Gorry, entered in the Category 2, Men’s 15-18 years division that drew 44 qualifiers from around the country, raced the same 15.3-mile course in 1:43.40. The winner was clocked in 1:39.35.
Conley entered the Category 1, Men’s 15-16 years division, and raced over a 17.8-mile course.
His time of 1:53.34 was eight-plus minutes off the championship pace.
Wayne Gorry called the competition at the championships the finest in the country since all riders had to qualify at state championship races.
The trio of Payson cyclists earned their national berths by winning Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA) state titles in mid-May.
Conley won his crown in Category 1, Men’s 15-18 years division, by amassing 403 points. The runner-up had 367 points.
Cypress Gorry racked up 390 points in Men’s Category 1, 15-18 years division to win going away.
Wayne Gorry won all eight series races to post 480 points in Men’s Category 1, 50-plus years group.
Wayne entered the USA Championships fresh from taking eighth place in the Firecracker 50-mile race held on Independence Day.
Next up for the veteran cyclist is the Leadville 100 in Colorado.
Wayne, Cypress and Conley will now turn their attention to the relatively new sport of Cyclo-cross.
The sport is popular in the traditional European road cycling countries and consists of many laps on a short course featuring paved roads, trails, steep hills, berms and other obstacles requiring the rider to dismount, carry his bike and remount in one motion.
“It’s a very interesting sport,” Wayne Gorry said.
Success on the MBAA trail
The MBAA race series that the three Payson racers won opened in January with the Whitetanks Whirlwind and wrapped up five months later at the Flagstaff Finale championships.
During the season, one race — the Mogollon Masher sponsored by Hike, Bike and Run — was held atop the Mogollon Rim near Woods Canyon Lake.
The MBAA series has long been a familiar battleground for the 54-year-old Gorry who first began mountain bike racing in 1980.
Over the years he’s won numerous MBAA state championships along with the U.S. Mountain Bike marathon title, the NOVA Nationals, Payson Mayor’s Cup, Payson Stampede Six-hour Solo and the New Amsterdam Cyclo-Cross series.
Cypress Gorry made his mark on the MBAA scene a year ago when he won his first state championship at a final race held near Flagstaff.
Cypress won the gold in the beginner men’s, 15-16 years age division by narrowly edging runner-up Evan Broby.
In one of the closest finishes in MBAA history, Gorry was timed in 57:39 and Broby in 57:40.
At the time, Gorry was actually a 14-year-old who only a week earlier had graduated from middle school. At the onset of the 2008 MBAA season, he decided to move up an age division in search of better competition.
Conley surged on to the national racing scene a year ago when he attended the USA Cycling Regional Mountain Bike Development Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
He now calls attending the camp, “a dream of mine for a long time.”
Conley qualified for the camp with his 2008 first-place finish in the MBAA 18-years-and-under Men’s Sport Division.
Although the teen is relatively new to the sport, he’s built a reputation as an up-and-coming cyclist brimming with potential.
He’s dominated the MBAA series the past three seasons winning age/experience division championships. He also won gold medals at the Copper Valley Stage race and the NOVA nationals.
In road racing, he was first in state, circuit and criterium events at the Summit Center Classic.
At the 2007 USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Championships at Mount Snow, Vt., he was third in his first appearance on the national stage.
He also won a platinum medal for riding the 109-mile El Tour de Tucson event in under six hours.